I believe that we were all born for greatness! There is something special in each one of us but finding that golden quality that sets us apart can become a life long journey. As we get older we either discover it by accident or luck – or we convince ourselves that we are merely average and we quit looking for it. For the fortunate ones that have discovered their voice, their artist, their inner genius or their athlete they have capitalized on it and have made a career out of it. I personally have mixed feelings on child prodigies – the attention and added pressure to fine tune that gifted talent while being pigeon-holed for the remainder of their lives… but that is another story for another day.
One very talented individual, Tina-Marie Springham did discover her talent at a young age – and that was acting. When she was a young girl, she would pretend that she was a priest and her dolls were the worshippers. Not realizing it at the time, she was a natural actor and that talent would serve her well in her adult life. With 6 films coming out this year, you could say that she’s capitalized on her abilities but she’s never been pigeon-holed. Tina-Marie has worked as a singer/songwriter in LA for over 10 years with her songs climbing the Top 10 and Top 20 charts before switching gears and dedicating herself to fitness. Having competed and winning multiple awards, nationals and being recognized as one of the top competitors in Canada, she started a company to become a coach and mentor. Having found success in something you’re passionate about seems like a win win… but one day that all changed. Tina-Marie awoke from a dream that provided an epiphany. She quit competing in fitness to rediscover her love for acting.
With over 18 film and animation credits, you can see Tina-Marie Springham in the upcoming feature films Broken and Blue Hour and in the multiple award-winning short films A Calling, Amphora, Speak and Header. She is currently creating her ‘Confidence Building’ workshops for actors and is also involved in a project centering around children’s books and animation. Acting, writing and directing are now first priority for Tina-Marie. She continues to study her craft in between filming and has worked with some of the best teachers in the business.
She is a force to be reckoned with and she is a gigantic inspiration. Although on paper, her life reads like a great success story but she is also human and has dealt with extreme depression in the past. She opens up about it and gets very candid about the realities of ‘hitting the wall’ in ones life.
“You’ve been a successful singer/songwriter and recording artist in LA that had your songs on the top 10 and top 20 list before you started a successful career in fitness and then acting. When you were a little girl, did you ever tell yourself that you wanted to be great at everything?”
“I definitely knew around the age of 6 that I wanted to be an actor or a priest. I’m not sure where the priest ambition came from but… my dad had a brass chalice in the basement that I wasn’t supposed to touch. I would set up my barbies like we were in church, while I pretend to be the priest with the big glass of wine and the crackers (chuckle). I would act the entire thing out; back then I didn’t realize that women couldn’t be Catholic priests and I never set out to be religious – just thought it was cool. I had seen a movie called Bugsy Malone starring Scott Baio and Jodie Foster when they were just kids. After I finished watching, I knew I wanted to be an actor. I understood what they were doing and I wanted to do the same thing, I wanted to make-believe.”
Photo Courtesy of Luba Popvic photography
“You’ve been so busy these last few years with your acting career and now that we have a pandemic to deal with, you have to apply the brakes. That must be very difficult for you.”
“It actually wasn’t. For the last 4 years, on paper it looked like my life was falling apart – but what it was actually doing, was preparing me for everything I’d gone through in the last 6-10 months. I was already doing the self-isolation because I was super depressed – things just weren’t working out for me… but it’s really interesting because I’ve actually thrived throughout it – maybe not on screen because there were no auditions to go to but… when you’re given a pile of sh!t, you can look at it as sh!t or you can turn it into manure/fertilizer and determine what you’re going to grow out of it. I do know how to hustle, when I see something I want to do; I’ll figure out how I’m going to make it happen. You find ways and you try to align yourself with the right people in your corner. Given the Covid pandemic, I know it’s a difficult time and we’re all in it, so what do we do with it? I believe Arnold Shwarzenegger said it best… we’re all given 24 hours, everyone is given 7 days a week, so where’s the advantage/what are you going to do with it?”
“Was music your first passion?”
“I probably stayed in it much longer than I should have… and I did it to show people that I could, instead of being in it because it was the right thing to do. Throughout my journey I’ve realized its ok to let go… it doesn’t mean you’ve failed. I’ve learned that balance is important, being able to discern when my instincts tell me ‘that was a great experience and you’ve learned from it but now its time to shift gears and try a different lane’ – it’s all come full circle and back to acting.”
“How did that shift back to acting happen”
“About 16-weeks out from Canadian Nationals being held in Vancouver that year, I had lost my second place standing the previous year because of a severe asthma attack, which landed me in the hospital for 10 days – I had to go back down to provincials but… I had won the overall Masters and Grandmasters title and I also placed second in the Open Age category. I was on my way to competing in the Nationals in Canada and my goal was to get my IFBB (International Federation of Body Building) pro card and dabble a little in acting. Then, in 2015 I went through a series of events that seemed unrelated but turned out to be divine intervention that told me to step away from competing. I ignored the signs, however because I was at a great stage in my competing, I’d started a coaching business and I was thriving… but then I had an epiphany – in the form of a dream, that told me to step away. 16 weeks out from Canadian Nationals I told myself I was done; it turned out to be the hardest year of my life, however one month after I’d made that decision, I found out I had a blood-clot in my liver. It was a wakeup call and within 12 months I’d gone through a severe depression. I didn’t know what my purpose was – I had to search inside myself until I’d finally determined what it was that made me truly happy… acting. I dusted off my resume and my demo reel and within 2 months I had an agent, I was auditioning and I was auditing classes. It was a tough road, but as I always tell actors that I coach – be the willow tree, bend in the wind. If you can do that you will always fare better rather than always resisting.”
Tina-Marie follows up with a fascinating story about a farmer that tries to grow bamboo. He tries for 4 consecutive years without success that leaves his neighbour mocking his failure. The farmer refuses to give up and the following year finally yields a 12-foot bamboo tree. The moral of the story – was the last 4 years wasted time or was it that the seed needed the right amount of coal and sun for 5 years rather than 5 weeks to begin growing.
Tina-Marie adds, “I did do some acting in LA but nothing much had transpired until I moved back to Vancouver. I ended up going back to LA 3 different times and had to ask myself how it was that I lived there for over a decade without having much success. Seeds were planted and relationships were formed – and the films I had worked on weren’t written yet, so it’s all a matter of having the perfect landscape now. I always suggest to people that they change the verbage from ‘spent time to invested time.’ That is the biggest lesson I’ve learned from everything I’ve experienced and gone through.”
Photo Courtesy of Jamie Poh Photography – creative.jmeshoots.com
“I had read that when you’re not acting, you’re focusing on writing and directing. What types of stories are you writing?”
“That part of my journey has just begun. In 2016 I had the opportunity to write my own segment for a women’s TV program for Shaw called PowHER TV. My segment was called ‘Note to Self’ and I wrote little vignettes from interviews with exceptional women about the lessons regular women could learn from them that was relatable. That was the first time I realized that I had to take my writing further than songs. I had co-directed it before focusing back on my acting career. I’ve recently started writing again and collaborating on a couple projects that I can’t talk about yet. I’m also venturing back into the directing and its moving along well. The stories are about real people and true to life – I feel quite compelled about that.”
“What is it about directing that attracts you?”
“I really want to be storytelling/creating as an actor – bringing the story to life. I also believe I have an ability to see the story in my head. When I wrote songs, I didn’t see the words, I saw the story playing out like a music video in my head.”
“You have 2 new feature films, Broken and Blue Hour coming out soon. Can you tell me about your role in each of those films?”
“Blue Hour is a Canadian feature film written and directed by Jesse Pickett. He’s such a talented young guy and I sense that this is his story. I play Aunt Rita, who’s married to the lead characters uncle. His uncle encourages him to be a writer when the rest of his family tells him he’s meant to be a blue-collar worker and that they’ve gotten him a job for the summer, when all he wants to do is escape from Alberta and go to school to become a writer. It’s about his internal struggle – wanting to please his family while also wanting to follow his dreams. It’s really an incredible cast with many recognizable Canadian actors. One of the actors in the film was my first acting coach, Linda Darlow. It was shot in Red Deer, Alberta and Vancouver. Blue Hour refers to the time of day when the sun is setting.”
“What can you tell me about your character in Broken?”
“That’s also a tremendously great film. It was partially filmed in LA and partially in Edmonton. It’s a crime drama directed by Patrick Phillips and written by Laura Buckles and Patrick. Laura was also one of the stars in the film. I play Janice, the truck stop waitress, who is integral to the film and knows everything thats going on. I knew the director and I wanted to play a character that I didn’t already have on my demo reel. Here’s a little trivia – my dad was in Blue Hour and my brother was in Broken. It made both films that much more special because I was able to share in the experience with my family.”
“What attracts you to a story/script?”
“If you look at my resume of films, there’s only been one that I’d gone through an agent for – the rest have been Indie films that I’ve self-submitted and hustled to get. I wanted roles that I didn’t have on my resume. There’s a film called Sterling Road that had a role originally written for a male that I wanted to read for. I never got the part but the writer and director were so impressed with my compelling performance that they took two weeks to rewrite my character into part of the script. If you want something then go for it and if you’re right for the part you’ll get it.”
“Do you have any other films coming out?”
“I do have another film called Prof by Hyst Films and it’s written by Logan Mitev. I can only describe it as The Big Chill meets The Breakfast Club meets Major Disfunction. It all takes place inside a house in one evening. We finished filming it in January of 2020, just before everything shut down. I told Logan that I almost didn’t audition for the film because I was deep into my depression but just as I had turned to walk out of the building, somebody had held the door open to the audition room – which resulted in me changing my mind. It also provided that confirmation that everything was aligning. I felt like I knew the character of Suzanne inside and out, which doesn’t always happen – serendipity.”
“Where can we expect to see these films once they come out?”
“I believe they’re all aiming for the film festival circuit. On Sept. 1st they’ll be doing a full push with Broken in Canada and the US. I’ll be promoting all the films on my Instagram (tinamariespringham) and Facebook page.
Tina-Marie Springham was amazing to talk to and incredibly candid. I cannot wait to see her in action on the screen. Her dedication is her armour.
Headshots by Natalia Anja